BY OLUFISOYE ADENITAN
In many states, the stipulated age for obtaining the primary school certificate is Ten years.
This has been the practice until of recent when parents started cutting corners to have their children sit for the exam at much younger ages and get them admitted into secondary schools.
In this special report, Olufisoye Adenitan examines the consequences of this action on the child, the system and the society.
Before now, many schools in Nigeria were mostly government owned and pupils went up to primary Six classes before they were awarded the primary school leaving certificate.
The deregulation of the education sector later gave rise to private schools and then the narratives changed.
Many of these schools are profit oriented so they bend the rules in the education system for more profits.
Nowadays ,children of Eight years old find their way into secondary school against the government stipulated age of 10 years .
This trend in recent times has been posing serious challenge to the education system as most parents even went as far as manipulating the age of their wards in some instances just to get them admitted into secondary schools.
According to a professor of philosophy of Education ,Matthew Ayeni , it is failure on the part of government to have benchmark of rules governing its policies and programmes and such rules of engagement are not properly monitored for compliance.
He said the system had continue to encourage sharp practices with negative consequences on the future of the education sector.
Professor Ayeni explained that under- aged Children forced into classes higher than their capacity often burden to the system, unable to cope with advanced learning in the future
Similarly, a school administrator in a private owned school ,Mrs Ajakaye Olubunmi expressed concern about the crave among parents of this generation to have their children below the required age in secondary schools at all cost
Mrs Ajakaye said this had serious effect even on the parents since some do go to their children school to copy notes for them
Also two parents ,Bimbola Toluyi and Mercy Roland recounted their experiences about undue pressure of pushing children of lower ages into secondary schools saying the trend expose them to juvenile delinquency because maturity was lacking .
A social commentator ,Susan ihuoma emphasized on government waking up to its responsibility of adequately implementing policies and programmes without loopholes
She said most parents continue to manipulate children ages and classes because the system tolerates such .
The social commentator suggested that Affidavit for primary school leaving certificate be given out based on genuine evidence not on flimsy complaints.
Speaking on this development ,the Director of Exams , Ondo State Ministry of Education , Mr Oyedeji Adegbenro disclosed that some years back over 400 underage pupils registered for the state exam had their certificate withheld in Akure south local Government area of the state .
Mr Oyedeji revealed that parents devised various means to manipulate their children ages but the ministry had also deployed counter means to be on top of its game .
Mr Adegbenro warned that manipulating a child age to get certificate posed a lot of challenges to the future of such child saying that government would continue to monitor compliance with its rules of engagement in primary education education .